Anime First Impressions: Fall 2017 Has Promise (Part 1)
Originally, I was going to put all of my first impressions in one post. As I started writing everything, though, it became really clear that I'd have to split this post into two. There are over ten different series that I'm watching this season and, let's be honest, that's just a lot for one post. So here we are.
There was a lot of hype coming into the season, with tons of intriguing new series in the lineup, along with the return of one ultra-popular series. But when there's that much hype surrounding a season, there's pretty much only two ways it can go. Shows can either live up to the hype and blow us away, or they can fall short. Fall 2017 has been a pretty even mix, giving us a handful of shows that have lived up to or exceeded the pre-season promotions, and a handful that stumbled right from the start.
The Ancient Magus' Bride
The only way I can describe The Ancient Magus’ Bride is stunning. From the amazing OP song to the stunning visuals that we got a hint at from the three-part Those Awaiting a Star series, Wit Studio has done a great job delivering on the hype.
While the relationship between Chise and Elias still remains just as blurry as it is in the first episode, it’s made very clear that it’s supposed to be that way. Chise, suddenly a mage’s apprentice and bride-to-be, is thrown into all sorts of surprising scenarios that she learns and grows from. The Ancient Magus’ Bride isn’t a series that’s action-heavy, though. Well-crafted dialogue and beautifully unique settings make the stories come to life without relying on excessive magic use. After all, this is set in the modern world, so the show does a good job of showing magic in a sort of underground, hidden state.
Now four episodes in, I can say that The Ancient Magus’ Bride has all the components to be a series that we’ll remember for a long time. The third episode even made me tear up a little.
I really, really wanted to like Black Clover. Coming into the season, the trailers and visuals looked great and the story sounded so interesting. I couldn’t wait to watch it. There was even a fairly decent level of hype surrounding it going into October. The manga had been compared to huge hits like Fairy Tail and Bleach. That’s promising, right? However, as soon as the first episode was released, all that hype and excitement disappeared.
For me, a few things immediately turned me off while watching the show. The first and largest is the sheer amount of screaming that happens each episodes. Asta, the show’s stupid yet slightly endearing main character, only has two volume levels: normal speaking and screeching. Almost 90% of the time, though, he’s yelling. It gets really old really fast, leaving you exhausted and just wishing he would shut up, or the show would end.
The other major problem is the show’s slow pace. Now four episodes into the season, a huge majority of who I’m guessing will be important characters only just got introduced. The first three episodes were a lot of backstory that, while important, could have no doubt been condensed into half the time. Yuno, Asta’s adoptive brother and self-proclaimed rival, gets hardly any screen time and, when he does, it’s forgettable moments that don’t really tell much about who he is as a character now.
The focus on always-yelling Asta gets tiring and slows the show to an almost unbearable speed. I’ll probably watch the rest of the season in hopes of it getting at least marginally better, even though it’ll more than likely stay the same.
Steampunk isn’t usually my aesthetic, but Code: Realize manages to pull it off in a subtle enough way to where it doesn’t overtake the whole show. The show’s plot is simple enough—a girl with the mysterious power to rot anything that touches her skin is kidnapped by gentleman thief Arsene Lupin and his group of genius cohorts in order to keep her away from evil organization Twilight—but it keeps just enough intrigue to hook you as a viewer.
The one aspect of Code: Realize that I’m not a huge fan of are a majority of the characters’ names. While I know the anime is based on a 2015 visual novel, it still makes me wince a little to hear that Fran’s full name is Victor Frankenstein, or that Saint is short for Saint-Germain. The inclusion of these well-known figures is a little off putting if you’re really hoping for some originality.
While Code: Realize isn’t one of my favorite animes of fall, I’ll still finish the season.
Food Wars: The Third Plate
It’s easy to expect a lot going into the third season of Food Wars. After all, the first two seasons have been smash hits for a reason. Yukihira is a funny and slightly oblivious underdog that has incomparable cooking skills. It’s the perfect recipe for a successful show.
This season, Yukihira is looking to take on the Elite Ten Council, Totsuki Culinary Academy’s student council which is made up of the top ten students in the entire school. In his usual style, Yukihira takes on whoever will accept his challenge which, to begin with, is Terunori Kuga. The season opens with this challenge, which takes place at the school’s annual Moon Festival. Now four episodes in, Third Plate has been a joyous and appetizing experience, as expected of Food Wars.
The Idolm@ster Side M
I started watching Idolm@ster Side M relatively late (I just binged all five released episodes this weekend), mainly because I was already watching Tsukipro and Dream Festival and I thought, “How many idol shows could I really be interested in at one time?” Turns out it’s more than I thought.
While Dream Festival covers mostly the creation and rise of one group and Tsukipro looks at multiple established groups preparing for a big event, Idolm@ster Side M combines the two, looking at the creation and debut of several different group, all being created under the brand-new 315 Productions. The first few episodes had me worried that the whole season would focus solely on Dramatic Stars, but luckily I was proven wrong. With so many interesting characters, it would’ve been a real loss to just focus on three.
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War
This has to be my most pleasantly surprising show of the season. The trailers leading into October made the show seem like an action-all-the-time sort of show that would have blood splattering the screen every five minutes. Instead, we get an impressively-executed mix of backstories and tournament action that helps you both connect you with the characters and keep you eager to see who will meet their end next.
Based on a light novel released in 2015, Juni Taisen centers around 12 of the deadliest mercenaries in the world who each are attributed to a different animal in the Chinese zodiac. They are the participants in the Juni Taisen Tournament, a battle royale-style tournament that takes place every 12 years. For this Juni Taisen, the participants are told to swallow a block of poison, which will kill them. In order to win, one person must kill and collect the blocks of poison from the other 11 contestants. The winner will be given the antidote for the poison and granted one wish.
What series have caught your attention this season? Is there a show that disappointed you? Let me know in the comments.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this season's first impressions, which will drop later this week. I'll be telling you what I think of King's Game, Kino's Journey, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Sengoku Night Blood, and Tsukipro The Animation.